1 a : the senior member of a body or group
b : a person considered to be knowledgeable or uniquely skilled as a result of long experience in some field of endeavor
2 : the oldest example of a category
Did You Know?
English picked up doyen from French in the 17th century. The French word in turn comes, via the Old French deien, from the Late Latin word decanus, which itself comes from the Greek dekanos, meaning “chief of ten.” A doyen can be a leader of a group, such as a diplomatic corps. In this regard, the word has been used to refer to someone who is specifically or tacitly allowed to speak for that group. More broadly, a doyen refers to a highly skilled and respected veteran of a particular field. The feminine form of doyen is doyenne.
We watched a TV documentary by Jacques Cousteau, the doyen of undersea explorers.
“Opening night will feature the saxophonist and spiritual-jazz doyen Pharoah Sanders, who turns 80 next month….” — Giovanni Russonello, The New York Times, 6 Sept. 2020